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In battle over reproductive rights, female legislators fight back -- with a bit of humor

 

A group of Democratic women from Georgia, frustrated by recent bills limiting women’s reproductive rights, decided it was time to turn the tables on the men.

Their proposed bill would amend the state’s current abortion law by banning men from getting vasectomies.

“Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation of vasectomies, said Rep. Yasmin Neal, a Democrat from the Atlanta suburb of Jonesboro, in a video statement on Wednesday. “The day has come where men should face the same pressure and invasion of privacy that women have faced for years.

Neal, who spearheaded the bill, tells NBC News her intention is to “shin[e] light on the double standard women face in the United States.”

The anti-vasectomy bill borrows some language directly from H.B. 954, a recently drafted anti-abortion bill in Georgia that would punish abortions performed after the 20th week of pregnancy with prison sentences between one and 10 years.

But Neal is not the only Democrat trying to use a bit of humor -- or exaggeration –- to combat legislation limiting women’s reproductive rights.

Constance Johnson, a Democratic state senator in Oklahoma, believed a proposed bill  in her state -- which would require women to undergo an ultrasound and listen and see the fetus before an abortion -- went too far.

So she proposed that zygotes should have the same rights as adults, and added: “However, any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman's vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.”

“My amendment seeks to draw attention to the absurdity, duplicity and lack of balance inherent in the policies of this state in regard to women,” Johnson wrote in a column for The Guardian. She later withdrew her amendment.

Opponents of abortion rights aren’t laughing.

Georgia State Rep. Doug McKillip (R), who sponsored the anti-abortion bill in the state, says Neal and her supporters are misunderstanding the issue.

McKillip -- who at the time of his interview with NBC News had not read Neal’s bill -- argues that his legislation is intended to protect life.

“This is a serious topic, not one that should be dealt with tongue-in-cheek,” he said.

“She’s making a mockery of the system,” added Genevieve Wilson, co-executive for Georgia Right for Life. “She’s ignoring the fact that children are being torn limb by limb.”

Neal counters, “We are very serious about proving a point, but also a serious bill was dropped.”

She continues, “I also find it ironic how a bill about men’s rights is ‘funny, tongue and cheek or humorous’ but a bill about women is ‘serious’ and needs to be debated, that's not fair.”